43 U.N.B.L.J. 281 (1994)
The Case of Imre Finta

handle is hein.journals/unblj43 and id is 289 raw text is: THE CASE OF IMRE FINTA

David Matas'
Imre Finta was accused of being a key official in the rounding up and deportation
of Jews in Szeged, Hungary to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, and to Strasshof, a
Nazi concentration camp.1 The round up had six phases. First, the Jews were
identified and required to wear a yellow star. Second, all their property was
seized. Third, they were removed to ghettoes. Fourth, the Jews were moved to
a large concentration centre where all valuables were taken from them. Fifth, they
were taken to the transport trains, and finally they were transported, most
commonly for extermination at Auschwitz.
Finta was accused of being in charge of bringing Jews from the ghettoes to the
concentration centre in Szeged. He was allegedly in charge of the concentration
centre and his responsibilities supposedly included making sure that the Jews were
kept in the brickyard and could not escape. He also took charge of taking
valuables from them and his trial counsel admitted that Finta made daily
announcements demanding that the prisoners relinquish all valuables on pain of
death. Finally, he allegedly supervised the loading of the prisoners onto boxcars
which took the Jews to their deaths at Auschwitz or to forced labour in Strasshof.
The Finta prosecution has an unusual legal history. Sabina Citron, a
Holocaust survivor, publicly accused Finta of committing war crimes. Finta denied
her charges and called her a liar. She sued him for libel. When the case went to
trial, Finta did not defend the action and he was ordered to pay Mrs. Citron
$30,000 plus court costs.
CTV broadcast a report accusing Finta of being a war criminal and Finta sued
the network for libel. CTV engaged in extensive preparation for the trial,
including obtaining videotape commission evidence in Austria, Hungary and Israel.
After CTV accumulated the evidence, Finta withdrew his libel suit. The Court
ordered Finta to pay the court costs of CTV and when he did not pay, CTV seized
and sold his house at auction.
The evidence against Finta is overwhelming and unanswered. Finta presented
no evidence to answer the charges brought against him, either at his libel trials or
at his criminal prosecution. When asked at his criminal trial if he wanted to call
evidence on his own behalf, he declined. Yet, Finta was acquitted. How is it
possible that Finta could win his case when he called no evidence on his own
behalf and the evidence against him was overwhelming? The answer is that there
was a stacked jury and an appeal to racial prejudice.
Barrister & Solicitor (Winnipeg); Chair of the war crimes committee of B'nai B'rith Canada.
'R. v. Finta (1992), 73 QC.C. (3d) 65 (Ont. CA.).

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